Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Question about Prop. 8

The passing of Proposition 8 in California a couple of weeks ago makes gay marriage unconstitutional in that state; protests have begun and it's likely that the short term local defeat will lead to a movement that will eventually provoke a reversal at the national level. From my perspective, it should be untenable for a country that prides itself on liberty and justice for all to continue to refuse the right to legal protection and benefits to people who want to ratify their partnerships; especially when so much of the rest of the democratic world has seen that offering civil partnership legislation to same-sex couples is not a travesty of 'traditional values', nor will it undermine heterosexual marriage, but is actually best seen as an extension of the principles outlined by the founders of the United States - when people recognise injustice, what they are supposed to do is end it, not enshrine it in law.

Meantime, the opposing factions in this culture war don't talk to each other very much, partly I suppose because they are afraid, partly because they don't know each other (or they don't think they know each other). One side sees the GLBT community as demons out to destroy family life; the other sees religious fundamentalists as their oppressors, out to take away their very right to a family life.

So the question I want to ask is: what exactly do the proponents of Proposition 8 think there is to be gained from preventing loving couples having the right to share their tax burden, visit each other in hospital, and live in the same country? It's a serious question; and I have genuinely never quite understood the reasons offered by those opposed to gay marriage. I have some more detailed thoughts on this, and hope we can have a dialogue here about this; I'd be grateful if any readers would like to kickstart it by posting their responses to this question: How does gay marriage negatively affect anyone who is not gay?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Ten Things That Have Been On My Mind This Week

Gay marriage is the location of the next stage of the culture war – and equality will win.

I think that Sarah Palin will not run for President. Or that the only way she will run will be if someone prophesies that she should.

I miss Barack Obama; he's been off the TV most of the past week. Somebody Bring Him B(ar)ack! We need our Bartlett for Thanksgiving.

Clint Eastwood’s films are very old-fashioned. This is not a criticism. It means that sometimes (‘Flags of our Fathers’ – young men being used as propaganda tools by the US Government, ‘Unforgiven’ – an old gunslinger regretting the past, ‘Letters from Iwo Jima’ – the other side of a ‘noble’ war) he makes magnificent cinema, because when good craft is applied to simple stories that tell us something new, what’s not to like? On the other hand, sometimes (‘Changeling’ – serial killer in Los Angeles, ‘Space Cowboys’ – old guys having fun together, ‘Blood Work’ – another serial killer in Los Angeles) his films are monotonous, repetitive, and tell us nothing that we didn’t already know.

Singing old songs by the Carpenters and Lionel Richie round a campfire on a freezing night does not keep you warm.

You can’t take fingerprints from a cat.

Even Stanley Kubrick made ‘early, innocent’ movies.

Dr Oliver Sacks is a lovable old guy whose attitude to giving a public lecture mirrors mine: bring a sheaf of notes, start well, and then completely disregard your plans in favour of telling stories instead.

‘Three Colours Blue’ remains one of the most thrilling films I’ve ever seen, and Kieslwoski’s notion of freedom is not unlike that presented in ‘Into the Wild’: part of the purpose of life is to call every thing by its right name; and happiness is only real when it is shared.

Coincidences are unending.